October 19, 2022

John Davis Publishes “Hope, Anger, and Engineering in a Reconstruction Landscape”

The landscape architecture professor’s paper examines the relationship between design and the desire for justice through a Reconstruction-era levee project.

Knowlton School Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture John Davis has published “Hope, Anger, and Engineering in a Reconstruction Landscape” in Buildings & Landscapes: Journal of the Vernacular Architecture Forum.

In the years following the Civil War, a radical congressman conspired with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to undertake a massive levee project that would have created the largest freedpeople’s colony of the Reconstruction era. The project was never built, but the rhetoric around the federal infrastructure project illustrates the complex motivations behind attempts to redesign the American landscape after emancipation. The article concludes that an examination of the emotional motivations of both designers and the various “publics” that designed landscapes serve can illuminate the relationship between design and the desire for justice, and what role postwar actors imagined that the built environment could play in support of constructing a multiracial democracy.

Read more at Buildings & Landscapes: Journal of the Vernacular Architecture Forum